What are some signs of improper physical restraints?
Signs of improper physical restraints include behavioral symptoms like depression, anxiety, agitation, and emotional or mental withdrawal. Physical signs include incontinence, chronic constipation, bed sores, poor circulation, and weak muscles. A resident suffering from improper physical restraints may also experience frequent illness and loss of mobility, due to an inability to change positions and move freely.
Improper physical restraints include any physical equipment, device, or material, or any manual method, which restricts the resident’s freedom of movement and which the resident cannot remove easily. Improper physical restraints can be bed or side rails, lap trays, hand mitts, or a number of other things. They can also refer to manually restricting a resident using physical force.
In some cases, restraints like bed rails may be required to ensure a resident’s safety. But nursing homes should use these restraints carefully and sparingly, in a way that is conducive to residents’ health, safety, and happiness. When physical restraints are used improperly, they can damage residents’ physical and emotional health, as well as restrict their freedom and violate their legal rights.
What should I do if I suspect my loved one has been a victim of improper physical restraints?
Under state nursing home law, use of improper physical restraints violates a nursing home resident’s legal right to be free from unnecessary restraints. If you suspect your loved one has been a victim of improper physical restraints, you should report the abuse to a government representative responsible for overseeing nursing home regulation in Georgia. You may wish to call Georgia Healthcare Facility Regulation – the organization which regulates nursing homes in Georgia – or contact a regional or state ombudsman – a government representative trained to serve as an advocate for nursing home residents.
Additionally, if your loved one has been a victim of improper physical restraints, please feel free to call and speak to one of our experienced Georgia nursing home abuse lawyers for a consultation. A lawyer will help you navigate the law governing improper physical restraints in Georgia, determine whether or not your loved one was improperly restrained, and help you decide whether or not to file a claim against the nursing home.
You may also want to speak to your loved one, if possible, to make sure you respect their wishes as their complaint moves forward.
What should a nursing home do to prevent improper physical restraints?
Nursing homes should never use physical restraints unless absolutely necessary. Using restraints simply for convenience of nursing home staff is unacceptable, as is using restraints to discipline a resident.
Nursing homes should hire employees with medical and caregiving backgrounds, who have been trained to care for residents without using improper restraints. Managers should educate staff about alternatives to improper physical restraints, when restraints may be necessary and how they should be used, and the importance of avoiding physical restraints whenever possible.
If a nursing home resident requires physical restraints for his or her own health or safety, then caregivers must inform the resident and, if possible, get his or her permission before implementing any restraints. Before using physical restraints, a nursing home should carefully consider the resident’s medical condition, how a physical restraint would help or damage the resident’s condition, and what alternatives exist.
Rather than using restraints, a nursing home may choose to modify the resident’s environment or routine. Or they may choose to make changes in staff supervision and/or the resident’s care plan.
Can the nursing home be held responsible for improper physical restraints?
Using improper physical restraints is a violation of both the resident’s rights and the nursing home’s duty of care towards that resident. Georgia law outlines the rights nursing home residents are entitled to, which include dignity, respect, and freedom. Imposing physical restraints on a resident (where the restraints are not needed or are used improperly) disrespects the resident’s dignity and restricts their freedom. If a nursing home neglects its legal duty by using improper physical restraints on a resident, then the nursing home can be held responsible.
When a nursing home is found to be responsible for an act of nursing home abuse or negligence, such as using improper physical restraints, the facility is responsible for making restitution towards the resident who has suffered from the abuse. When a resident is improperly restrained, he or she may suffer injuries, illness, medical issues, physical pain and discomfort, and emotional pain and suffering as a result. Under state law, the nursing home must pay for any medical bills related to the restraints, and compensate the resident financially for any related pain and suffering.
Why does use of improper physical restraints occur in nursing homes?
Nursing homes should never use improper physical restraints on a resident, but sometimes caregivers are uninformed about the dangers of using physical restraints or disregard the resident’s best interests in order to make things more convenient for themselves.
A nursing home may use improper physical restraints to make things easier on the caregiver, to discipline a resident, or to attempt to guarantee a resident’s safety (with bed rails, for instance). Improper physical restraints may also occur when staff neglect a resident and fail to remove restraints once the resident no longer needs them, which happens when staff are too few in number to adequately care for all of a nursing home’s residents.
There are a few instances in which physical restraints may be necessary. For example, if a resident needs emergency care, staff may use physical restraints for a brief period of time to facilitate emergency care, unless the resident has specifically refused physical restraints at a previous time. Physical restraints may also be used on a resident who is a danger to him or herself or to others, as long as restraints are used in accordance with nursing home law and removed when they are no longer necessary.